Thomas Wedgwood (photographer)

Thomas Wedgwood

Thomas Wedgwood (14 May 1771 – 10 July 1805), son of Josiah Wedgwood, the potter, is most widely known as an early experimenter in the field of photography.

He is the first person known to have thought of creating permanent pictures by capturing camera images on material coated with a light-sensitive chemical. His practical experiments yielded only shadow image photograms that were not light-fast, but his conceptual breakthrough and partial success have led some historians to call him "the first photographer".[1][2][3]

Life

Thomas Wedgwood was born in Etruria, Staffordshire, now part of the city of Stoke-on-Trent in England.

Wedgwood was born into a long line of pottery manufacturers, grew up and was educated at Etruria and was instilled from his youth with a love for art. He also spent much of his short life associating with painters, sculptors, and poets, to whom he was able to be a patron after he inherited his father's wealth in 1795.

As a young adult, Wedgwood became interested in the best method of educating children, and spent time studying infants. From his observations, he concluded that most of the information that young brains absorbed came through the eyes, and were thus related to light and images.

Wedgwood never married and had no children. His biographer notes that "neither his extant letters nor family tradition tell us of his caring for any woman outside the circle of his relations" and that he was "strongly attracted" to musical and sensitive young men.

In imperfect health as a child and a chronic invalid as an adult, he died in the county of Dorset at the age of 34.